Holy Motors

Director: Leos Carax
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 3.5

An actor, M. Oscar (Denis Lavant), leaves his home to go 'perform' in a series of vignettes in a variety of cinematic genres - and chauffeured by his driver/handler Céline (Edith Scob) - that involve him pretending to be: an elderly panhandler, a CGI model, a camp villain (reprising his M. Merde role from Carax's segment in Tokyo!), an assassin, a strict father, a romantic partner (with Kylie Minogue) and so on. It's as if Carax re-watched the omnibus Tokyo! and decided he could make an omnibus all his own and with the same actor: the result is a frenetic, surreal and fractured. Though it's easy to quibble with particulars - the transitions from section to section are jarring and lack a sense of 'flow' - and I'm not entire confident it's a "movie" in the strictest sense (or rather a set of exquisite 'ideas'), but I do feel like I garner what Carax is saying not only about the 'death' and 'rebirth' of cinema (life itself is becoming more 'cinematic' with the advent of new technology) but also about what it means to 'act' (either in 'real life' or in front of the multitude of cameras that have taken over 'reality'). It's an intentional mess, but it's also kind of brilliant: Lavant turns in an actual tour-de-force performance (though that term is over-used), as he has to keep changing emotional registers. At least at night he has those monkeys to help him relax....